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Publication numberUS20050226185 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/819,630
Publication dateOct 13, 2005
Filing dateApr 7, 2004
Priority dateApr 7, 2004
Also published asCN1939068A, CN1939068B, EP1736008A1, EP1736008A4, EP1736008B1, WO2005101861A1
Publication number10819630, 819630, US 2005/0226185 A1, US 2005/226185 A1, US 20050226185 A1, US 20050226185A1, US 2005226185 A1, US 2005226185A1, US-A1-20050226185, US-A1-2005226185, US2005/0226185A1, US2005/226185A1, US20050226185 A1, US20050226185A1, US2005226185 A1, US2005226185A1
InventorsDaniel Tell, Donald Cordell, Michael Kinnavy, William Morgan
Original AssigneeTell Daniel F, Cordell Donald P, Kinnavy Michael J, Morgan William K
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for communicating via a wireless local-area network
US 20050226185 A1
Abstract
During operation a device (101) will utilize a wireless local-area network (206) when within the coverage area of the wireless local-area network, and will utilize wide-area network (207) when outside of the coverage area of the wireless local-area network. The device will also utilize both the local, and wide-area networks for soft handoff purposes when both systems are available for communication.
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Claims(20)
1. A method for communicating via a wireless local-area network, the method comprising the steps of:
receiving data;
splitting the data into a plurality of redundant data streams;
transmitting a first redundant data stream to a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN); and
transmitting a second redundant data stream to a Wide Area Network (WAN).
2. The method of claim 1 further comprising the step of:
delaying the second redundant data stream transmitted to the WAN.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein the step of delaying the second redundant data stream comprises the steps of:
determining a time period for conversion of the second redundant data stream from a first system protocol to a second system protocol; and
delaying the second redundant data stream by the time period.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of transmitting the first redundant data stream comprises the step of transmitting the first redundant data stream to a WLAN employing an 802.11 system protocol.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream comprises the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream to a WAN employing a cellular communication system protocol.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream comprises the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream to a WAN employing a cellular communication system protocol.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of transmitting the first and the second redundant data streams comprise the steps of:
transmitting the first redundant data stream to the WLAN utilizing a first communication system protocol; and
transmitting the second redundant data stream to the WAN utilizing a second communication system protocol.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of transmitting the first redundant data stream to the WLAN comprises the step of transmitting the first redundant data stream to a WLAN access point.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream to the WAN comprises the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream to a WAN base station.
10. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of transmitting the first redundant data stream to the WLAN comprises the step of transmitting the first redundant data stream to a WLAN access point; and
wherein the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream to the WAN comprises the step of transmitting the second redundant data stream to a WAN base station.
11. An apparatus comprising:
a signal splitter receiving data and splitting the data into a plurality of redundant data streams;
first transmit circuitry transmitting a first redundant data stream to a Wireless Local-Area Network (WLAN); and
second transmit circuitry transmitting a second redundant data stream to a Wide-Area Network (WAN).
12. The apparatus of claim 11 further comprising delaying circuitry for delaying the second redundant data stream transmitted to the WAN.
13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the delaying circuitry delays the second redundant data stream by an amount equal to a time period for conversion of the second redundant data stream from a first system protocol to a second system protocol.
14. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the first transmit circuitry utilizes an 802.11 system protocol.
15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the second transmit circuitry utilizes a cellular communication system protocol.
16. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the second transmit circuitry utilizes a cellular communication system protocol.
17. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the first transmit circuitry utilizes a first communication system protocol and the second transmit circuitry utilizes a second communication system protocol.
18. An apparatus comprising:
means for receiving a data stream;
means for splitting the data stream into a plurality of redundant data streams;
means for transmitting a first redundant data stream to a Local-Area Network (LAN) utilizing a first communication system protocol; and
means for transmitting a second redundant data stream to a Wide-Area Network (WAN) utilizing a second communication system protocol.
19. The apparatus of claim 18 further comprising means for delaying the second redundant data stream.
20. The apparatus of claim 19 wherein the means for delaying comprises means for delaying the redundant data stream an amount equal to a time period for conversion of the second redundant data stream from the first system protocol to the second system protocol.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to wireless communication systems, and in particular to a method and apparatus for communicating via a wireless local-area network.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Communication devices are currently being developed to take advantage of local access points for placing/receiving calls from near the access point. For example, Motorola Inc. is developing a dual-mode phone that operates using both a wireless local-area network (WLAN) protocol and a cellular protocol (e.g., GSM, CDMA, iDEN, . . . , etc.). During operation, a local access point is utilized for placing/receiving calls within the geographic area of the access point, while a wide-area network (WAN) (preferably a cellular network) is utilized for placing/receiving calls when outside the coverage of the WAN. As is known in the art, communication with an access point takes place utilizing a much lower power level than communication with the WAN. This greatly increases battery life, as well as decreasing overall system interference.

Because communication with a WLAN takes place at such low power, a problem exists in that RF conditions can degrade very rapidly, causing a handover the WAN. For example, local RF conditions change so rapidly (such as a door closing) that the communication device may not be able to communicate via the WLAN, and will be forced to switch to the WAN. As is evident, it would be beneficial for any communication via a WLAN to be able to tolerate temporary degradations in communication without having to de-register with the WLAN. Therefore a need exists for a method and apparatus for communicating via a WLAN that can tolerate temporary degradations in RF conditions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a high-level block diagram of a wireless local-area network and a wide-area network.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a wireless local-area network and a wide-area network.

FIG. 3 illustrates delay caused by routing transmissions through a local-area network.

FIG. 4 is a more-detailed block diagram of various elements of FIG. 2 during data transmissions from the base station and the access point.

FIG. 5 is a more-detailed block diagram of various elements of FIG. 2 during data transmission from the mobile device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing operation of the wide-area network of FIG. 2 during downlink transmission.

FIG. 7 is a flow chart showing operation of the mobile device of FIG. 2 during uplink transmission.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

To address the above-mentioned need a method and apparatus for communicating via a wireless local-area network is provided herein. During operation a device will utilize a wireless local-area network when within the coverage area of the wireless local-area network, and will utilize a wide-area network when outside of the coverage area of the wireless local-area network. The device will also utilize both the local-area, and wide-area networks for soft handoff purposes when both systems are available for communication.

Because communication can take place simultaneously with both the local-area and wide-area networks, a lower overall power can be utilized by the device when compared to the power necessary for sole communication with the wide-area network. In addition, because there exists redundancy in communication links, the local-area network can tolerate larger degradations in RF conditions than prior-art systems. Finally soft handoff avoids potential erasures (voice quality issues) associated with hard handoffs.

The present invention encompasses a method for communicating via a wireless local-area network. The method comprises the steps of receiving data and splitting the data into a plurality of redundant data streams. A first redundant data stream is transmitted to a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), while a second redundant data stream is transmitted to a Wide Area Network (WAN).

The present invention additionally encompasses an apparatus comprising a signal splitter receiving data and splitting the data into a plurality of redundant data streams, first transmit circuitry transmitting a first redundant data stream to a Wireless Local-Area Network (WLAN), and second transmit circuitry transmitting a second redundant data stream to a Wide-Area Network (WAN).

The present invention additionally encompasses an apparatus comprising means for receiving a data stream, means for splitting the data stream into a plurality of redundant data streams, means for transmitting a first redundant data stream to a Local-Area Network (LAN) utilizing a first communication system protocol, and means for transmitting a second redundant data stream to a Wide-Area Network (WAN) utilizing a second communication system protocol.

Turning now to the drawings, wherein like numerals designate like components, FIG. 1 is a block diagram of communication system 100. Base station 107 is preferably part of a cellular wide-area network employing one of several communication system protocols such as but not limited to a cellular network employing the CDMA system protocol, the GSM system protocol, the iDEN system protocol, . . . , etc. Access point 104 is preferably part of a WLAN utilizing a wireless internet protocol (IP) such as, but not limited to an 802.11 protocol.

During operation, local access point 104 is utilized for placing/receiving calls within the geographic area of the access point (e.g., within building 102), while a wide-area network (e.g., a cellular network) is utilized for placing/receiving calls when outside the coverage of access point 104. As discussed above, because communication with access point 104 takes place at such low power, a problem exists in that RF conditions can degrade very rapidly, causing a handover to base station 107. In order to address this issue, in the preferred embodiment of the present invention device 101 utilizes simultaneous communication (i.e., soft handoff) with both access point 104 and base station 107.

FIG. 2 is a more-detailed block diagram of communication system 100.

In FIG. 2, path 103 has been illustrated with uplink/downlink signals 202 and 205, while path 106 has been illustrated with uplink/downlink signals 203 and 204. In a similar manner, path 105 comprises one of links 210-212. As discussed, WAN 207 is preferably a cellular network employing a first communication system protocol, while WLAN 206 is preferably a wireless internet protocol (IP) based network utilizing a second communication system protocol such as, but not limited to an 802.11 protocol. In an alternate embodiment of the present invention WLAN 206 may simply comprise a signal repeater, simply repeating received signals.

Device 101 preferably comprises a dual-mode transceiver that is capable of communication with both WAN 207 and/or WLAN 206 via communication signals 203 and 202, respectively. Similarly, both WAN 207 and WLAN 206 are capable of communicating with device 101 via downlink communication signals 204 and 205, respectively. It should be noted that while device 101 is preferably a dual-mode cellular telephone, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that device 101 may comprise other dual-mode devices such as, but not limited to a personal digital assistant (PDA), a personal computer, or any device (voice, data, or video) that can operate in dual mode systems.

During operation device 101 will utilize WLAN 206 when within the coverage area of WLAN 206, and will utilize WAN 207 when outside of the coverage area of WLAN 206. Device 101 will also utilize both WLAN 206 and WAN 207 for soft handoff purposes when both systems are available for communication. When in coverage of WLAN 206, device 101 will access WLAN 206 through any number of access points 111 (only one shown in FIG. 2). As discussed, the system shown in FIG. 2 takes advantage of a mobile unit's ability to simultaneously receive/transmit communications from a plurality of transmitters. During such soft-handoff operation, transmissions from device 101 are simultaneously directed at least towards access point 104 and towards base station 107.

Eventually the uplink data transmitted via communication signals 202 and 203 reach selection and distribution unit (SDU) 214 where they are properly combined. Uplink communication signals 202 that are received via access point 104 may be routed to SDU 214 via one of several paths. For example, access point 104 may simply act as a wireless repeater by wirelessly re-broadcasting uplink communication signal 202 (via signal 212) to base station 107. Access point 104 may pass data received via uplink communication signal 202 through enterprise internet 208 to SDU 214 via internet 211. Finally, circuit-switched data may be directed towards SDU 214 by converting uplink communication signal 202 to circuit-switched data and passing the data through Private Branch Exchange (PBX) 209 to Public-Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) 210 and eventually to SDU 214 through MSC 213.

In a similar manner, device 101 may take advantage of soft handoff by simultaneously receiving downlink communication signals via base station 107 and access point 104. During such operation data exits SDU 214 and is directed towards base station 107, and eventually ends up at device 101 via downlink signal 204. Data may reach access point 104 via several signal paths. A first signal path simply exists through base station 107 to access point 104 via communication signal 212. A second signal path exists through internet 211 to access point 104 via intranet 208. Finally SDU may direct data to MSC 213 to PBX 209 through PSTN 210.

Regardless of the technique utilized for uplink and downlink soft handoff, data passing through WLAN 206 may be substantially delayed when compared to data that is transmitted/received through WAN 207. If the delay is too great, device 101 will be unable to use both signals for performing soft handoff. In order to address this issue, time-delay circuitry is utilized to delay all transmissions that are not directed through WLAN 206. By delaying transmissions not directed through WLAN 206, the communication signals entering SDU 214 can be appropriately time-aligned. This is illustrated in FIG. 3.

Referring to FIG. 3, path 106 comprises base station 107/device 101 link, and may comprise either uplink communication signal 203 or downlink communication signal 204. Similarly, path 103 comprises device 101/WLAN 206 link, and may comprise either uplink communication signal 202 or downlink communication signal 205. Finally, path 105 comprises the link between WLAN 206 and WAN 207. As discussed above, path 105 may utilize either communication signal 212, internet 211, or PSTN 210.

Assume N is the processing time required to translate data received on path 103 to data transmitted on path 105 and vice versa. Data transmitted over path 103 and 105 will require a longer time (N) to reach its destination when compared to data transmitted over path 106. This time difference must be corrected in order to perform soft handoff between WLAN 206 and WAN 207. N is a deterministic fixed delay in each direction. The fixed delay could be hard coded within the WLAN 206 and communicated back to the device 101 via messaging. The fixed delay is easily measured by sending known patterns and taking timing measurements. The WLAN supplier can then have this programmed into the WLAN device.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention WLAN 206 communicates to both WAN 207 and device 101 the delay (N). Both device 101 and WAN 207 would delay their transmissions over path 106 by N. Thus, if data is available at time X for transmission over path 106, device 101 and WAN 207 will have to delay the transition over path 106 until time X+N. This would be the time when the WLAN 206 would first be able to transmit the data. Thus, WAN 207 and device 101 would receive both signals essentially simultaneously, allowing soft handoff to occur.

FIG. 4 is a more-detailed block diagram of various elements of FIG. 2 during data transmissions from the base station and the access point. During operation data is received at SDU 214 and is split into a plurality of redundant data streams by splitter 411. A redundant data stream is either delayed or not (via circuitry 401) based on whether or not the data is to be routed through WLAN 206. As is evident, delay circuitry 401 receives a redundant data stream and delays the data stream for a predetermined amount of time. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention delay circuitry 401 comprises a first-in-first-out buffer having an ability to vary the delay amount. However, in alternate embodiments of the present invention, delay circuitry 401 may comprise other forms of delay means.

As discussed above, the redundant data stream is delayed an amount of time equal to the processing time required to translate, or convert the data received on path 103 to the data transmitted on path 105 and vice versa. Both non-delayed redundant data and delayed redundant data exit SDU 214 where they are transmitted to a WLAN and a WAN, respectively. Non-delayed, and delayed redundant data streams enter access point 104 and base station 107, respectively.

As discussed above, path 105 may comprise one of many paths to access point 104. For simplicity, the various paths available for data exiting SDU 214 are not shown in FIG. 4. Delayed redundant data enters base station transmit circuitry 403 where it is transmitted to first receive circuitry 407 via over-the-air signal path 106. As discussed above, signal path 106 utilizes a first communication system protocol. In a similar manner non-delayed data enters access point 104 where it is transmitted to second received circuitry 405 utilizing a second communication system protocol. Once both data streams are received, device 101 outputs them to combine circuitry 409 where the streams are properly combined.

As discussed above, because passing data through access point 104 will add appreciable delay to any signal transmitted to device 101, soft handoff may be precluded. However, by delaying any transmission through base station 107, signals 103 and 106 will arrive at device 101 simultaneously, allowing for soft handoff to occur. Additionally, it should be noted that while FIG. 4 illustrates delay circuitry 401 existing within SDU 214, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that delay circuitry may also exist within base station 107 or transmit circuitry 403, as long as downlink signal 106 to device 101 is appropriately delayed.

FIG. 5 is a more-detailed block diagram of various elements of FIG. 2 during data transmission from the mobile device of FIG. 2. As shown, data enters splitter 511 where it is split into a plurality of redundant data streams. Redundant data streams are passed to both delay circuitry 509 and first transmit circuitry 405. As discussed above, delay circuitry 509 serves to delay the data stream by an amount of time equal to the processing time required to translate data received on path 103 to data transmitted on path 105 and vice versa. The delayed data is then output to transmit circuitry 407. The delayed data and the non-delayed data streams are transmitted to base station receive circuitry 503 and access point 104, respectively. As discussed above, the transmission to the delayed and non-delayed data streams are transmitted utilizing differing communication system protocols. Eventually the delayed data and non-delayed data reach SDU combine circuitry 501.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing operation of the wide-area network of FIG. 2 during downlink transmission. The logic flow begins at step 601 where data is received by WAN 207 destined for device 101 via soft handoff links utilizing base station 107 and access point 104. At step 603, the data is split into a plurality of redundant data streams. At step 605 WAN 207 determines an amount of time necessary to translate path 103 to path 105 and vice versa. At step 607 data is transmitted through base station 107 is delayed by the amount of time determined at step 605. Finally, at step 609 the delayed data is transmitted via a first soft handoff leg utilizing a first communication system protocol, while non-delayed data is transmitted via a second soft-handoff leg utilizing a second communication system protocol.

FIG. 7 is a flow chart showing operation of the mobile device of FIG. 2 during uplink transmission. The logic flow begins at step 701 where a data stream is received by splitter 511. At step 703, the data stream is split into a plurality of redundant data streams. At step 705 a first redundant data stream is delayed by a predetermined amount of time. The amount of time is predetermined, and is based on an amount of time necessary for WLAN 206 to convert and transmit the data received from uplink communication signal 202. Finally, at step 707 the delayed data stream is transmitted via a first soft handoff leg utilizing a first communication system protocol, while non-delayed data is transmitted via a second soft-handoff leg utilizing a second communication system protocol.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to a particular embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the above description was given with respect to delaying transmit times for signal paths not utilizing WLAN 206. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the same results may be achieved by delaying the received signals at WAN 207 and device 101. Thus, in an alternate embodiment of the present invention, the transmissions from WAN 207 and device 101 are not delayed. Instead all received signals (not passing through WLAN 206) are delayed at the receiver so that they are received at the same time as signals passing through WLAN 206. Additionally, it is contemplated that the above system will not need to delay data at all when conversion times are adequate. It is intended that such changes come within the scope of the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7480504 *May 31, 2006Jan 20, 2009Motorola, Inc.Method and system to compensate for failed network access using disparate access technologies
US7688835 *Mar 15, 2006Mar 30, 2010Motorola, Inc.Dynamic wireless backhaul
US7843882 *Aug 23, 2004Nov 30, 2010Alcatel-Lucent Usa Inc.Soft vertical handovers in wireless networks
US8260257 *Feb 7, 2005Sep 4, 2012Cisco Technology, Inc.Key distribution for wireless devices
US8290498 *Mar 30, 2005Oct 16, 2012Broadcom CorporationMobile handoff through multi-network simulcasting
US8355757 *Dec 7, 2005Jan 15, 2013Broadcom CorporationSystem and method providing low power operation in a multimode communication device
US8452290 *Mar 31, 2009May 28, 2013Broadcom CorporationCommunication session soft handover
US8634768Jun 11, 2010Jan 21, 2014Viasat, Inc.Redundant communication path for satellite communication data
US8971243 *Aug 27, 2010Mar 3, 2015Vodafone Group PlcTransmitting data packets in multi-rat networks
US20060025148 *Mar 30, 2005Feb 2, 2006Jeyhan KaraoguzQuality-of-service (QoS)-based delivery of multimedia call sessions using multi-network simulcasting
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US20110075605 *Aug 27, 2010Mar 31, 2011Andrea De PasqualeTransmitting Data Packets In Multi-Rat Networks
Classifications
U.S. Classification370/331, 455/436, 370/338, 370/466
International ClassificationH04L12/28, H04W36/18, H04W84/04, H04W84/12, H04W36/14
Cooperative ClassificationH04W36/14, H04W84/042, H04W84/12, H04W36/18
European ClassificationH04W36/18
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 7, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: MOTOROLA, INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TELL, DANIEL F.;CORDELL, DONALD P.;KINNAVY, MICHAEL J.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015189/0112;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040331 TO 20040406